After the introduction of the 707-horsepower Hellcat versions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger, many fans of the brand began pleading for a factory supercharged Durango. The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, packing the same Hellcat Hemi, proved to be a smashing success for the Jeep brand and many Mopar lovers who wanted a supercharged, all-wheel-drive SUV were quick to buy one of those. However, loyal Dodge fans who prefer the look of the Durango continued to call for a supercharged three-row.
The good news is that the Durango SRT Hellcat finally arrived for the 2021 model year with a whopping 710-horsepower output. The bad news is that new federal regulations will prevent Dodge from offering the supercharged Hemi in a three-row SUV for the 2022 model year, so the Hellcat Durango is a one-year-only model. Making matters worse, production of the supercharged Dodge SUV was planned to be limited from the beginning, and with the brand adding as many as a thousand units to the production plans, the Hellcat Durango is very hard to get. If you do find one, you can expect to pay upwards of $80,000 before any dealership markup, leaving many people to wonder if it is really worth the money.
After spending a week living with the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, my advice is that anyone buying a high performance SUV right now spend the extra money and get this 710-horsepower machine. This is the best performance three-row in the world and that isn’t just because of the power. The power makes a big difference, of course, but the Durango Hellcat is more than just an incredible engine option.
World Class Interior
The UConnect infotainment systems at work in most modern Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles is among the most-awarded in the industry and the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat showcases the latest iteration of that system. UConnect 5 is the most powerful, most elaborate and most customizable infotainment system offered in a Dodge vehicle to date, controlled by a 10.1-inch touchscreen.
This screen offers easy access to every interior function, from the navigation system to the climate control system to the sound system, featuring 19 speakers. There are also some dedicated knobs for the sound system and a small panel of buttons for the climate control system, but the big digital “buttons” on the touchscreen are easy to use when driving without taking your eyes off of the road. Plus, the basic functions, such as changing the radio station or adjusting the volume, can be done with the steering wheel controls.
In addition to being very easy to use, the Durango Hellcat’s 10.1-inch screen looks great mounted high on the dash, bolstering the high end, high tech feel of the interior. That premium look is carried throughout the cabin with copious amounts of leather and suede, from the dashboard and door panels to the seats and center console, with crushed carbon fiber trim and gloss black accents completing the plush cockpit.
Speaking of seats, the leather-and-suede-wrapped front and second row bucket seats keep everyone securely planted during stints of spirited driving while also being comfortable for a long car trip. Of course, what separates the Durango Hellcat from the Trackhawk is the third row of seating, allowing the Dodge to comfortably carry more passengers than any other high performance SUV in the world. At the same time, there is still a nice sized cargo area behind the third row of seats, so you can haul six people and the luggage needed for a family trip.
There is no sport utility vehicle on the market today which offers a similar combination of passenger space, premium finishes and state-of-the-art infotainment technology like the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat – then there is the 710-horsepower supercharged Hemi.
Hell of a Drive
You likely know that the heart of the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is the 6.2-liter Hemi V8, topped by a 2.4-liter IHI supercharger, delivering 710 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque. That power is channeled to all four wheels by means of a heavy duty ZF 8HP90 8-speed automatic transmission and an advanced all-wheel-drive system. According to Dodge, this drivetrain layout allows the three-row SUV to sprint from a stop to 60 in just 3.5 seconds, but I was able to get down to a best of 3.3 seconds while regularly hitting 3.4. When I was testing the Jeep Trackhawk, I was able to get down to a 3.2, but that was in far cooler air, so to get a 3.4 with the bigger, heavier Durango on a warm day is a solid real world number. Most importantly, thanks to the advanced all-wheel-drive system, you can easily reel-off these blistering-fast short times, allowing you to out-dig just about any rear-drive performance car in a short sprint.
I didn’t make any quarter mile runs, but I did make a couple clean eighth-mile pulls on a friend’s private property with the Durango Hellcat. My best yielded a 60-foot time of 1.45 seconds and an eighth mile time of 7.5 at 93 miles per hour. During that hard pull, and every hard pull, the symphony of supercharger whine coupled with the roar of the exhaust makes this one of the best sounding – and possibly the loudest – performance SUV on the market. The exhaust note isn’t deafening during normal driving situations, but when you are really pushing the Durango Hellcat hard, the roar is comparable to that of the Hellcat-powered Dodge cars. It is deep and throaty and wonderful, with a nice amount of crackle on deceleration for a stock exhaust system.
While the Durango Hellcat is offers the best performance from a dig, thanks to the advanced all-wheel-drive system, this big, supercharged SUV pulls hard through the mid-range and on the top end, too. This gives the three-row Dodge a ton of power when accelerating at highway speeds, so this Durango will have no problems powering past slower-moving traffic in any weather condition. Unlike the Hellcat cars, you can enjoy this supercharged Dodge in the rain or snow and having spent some time driving this beast in the rain, I know that it is wonderfully surefooted in harsh conditions.
The Hellcat Durango can be enjoyed in any weather condition, but on warm, clear roads, it is truly an incredible performance machine. Aside from the stunning acceleration, the Durango Hellcat offers handling capabilities that are unheard of for an SUV of this size, thanks to the Bilstein adaptive dampers. When set to Track mode, the supercharged Durango sticks to the road remarkably well, cutting body roll down to a minimum and allowing this big SUV to out-handle many sports cars. Should you get into a turn too hot, the massive Brembo braking system gets the nearly three-ton hauler down to a stop in the blink of an eye. While most people don’t buy a big, three-row SUV because it handles like a sports car, the Durango Hellcat is one of the few SUVs that can make such a claim.
So, the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is insanely quick, offers world-class braking and handling capabilities that make some older Corvette owners blush, but when you aren’t using all 710 horsepower, it is every bit as comfortable for the daily drive as any other three-row SUV in America. Even in Track mode, which features the stiffest suspension settings, the supercharged Durango is surprisingly smooth, even on Detroit’s rough roads. In the gentler suspension settings, bumps and roughness from the road surface are barely noticeable, making this a great vehicle for the daily drive. There is no compromise of ride quality in exchange for the incredible performance measures, which is what makes the Durango Hellcat so special. This isn’t a vehicle that you buy for a weekend cruiser – you buy the supercharged three-row for a plush, luxurious daily driver which also happens to be one of the quickest vehicles sold in the United States.
Mind you, that is one of the quickest vehicles…not just one of the quickest SUVs. It is the quickest three-row SUV and it is only rivaled by the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk in terms of overall SUV performance, but for anyone who wants a roomy family hauler that offers stunning real world performance, the Durango Hellcat is the one for you.
There are only two downsides to the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat – the limited production numbers and the pricing. With an MSRP starting just over $80,000 and climbing into the $90k range, it is also one of the most expensive SUVs in America, but when you consider the long list of features and capabilities, it is impossible to buy something that compares in every way for any price. However, with a price in the $80-90k range, it is not for everyone. More importantly, with the limited production numbers, there are only so many available at dealers around the country and no more orders are being accepted. That means that you have to find one in dealer inventory and when you do, there is a good chance that the dealer will take some additional markup to the bottom line.
That being said, we are quite confident that everyone who buys a 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat – even for more than MSRP – will love their supercharged SUV in every driving condition. Whether you want to drive some coworkers to the office, drive the kids across the country, pull a boat or run 11-second quarter mile times at the drag strip, the Durango Hellcat does it all.